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In loving memory ~ Ralph Barger

Ralph Barger . | August 4, 1929 - May 21, 2017

Maryland — Ralph Leland Barger, Lieutenant Colonel, USA Retired, age 87, passed away peacefully with his family members at his side on Sunday, May 21, 2017 at the Carroll Hospice Dove House.

Ralph is survived by his loving companion of 12 years, Peggy Compton, three children, Keven Barger Ofenstein of New Windsor MD, Carol Barger of Laguna Beach CA, and Ralph "Skip" Barger III of Thalwill, Switzerland.

He also leaves behind five grandchildren: Cameron, Travis, Tiffany, Lauren, Alexander; and two great grandchildren, Alaric and Noah.

Ralph grew up in Putnam Valley, NY, one of two sons of Ralph Barger and Ruble Barrett. As a child, he learned woodcrafting from his father and grandfather who ran the local lumber mill and later he and his brother JP Barger ran a small craftsman shop they called Old Farm Pine. After the death of his father when he was 10, and as he grew older, he took on various other jobs locally - with the Mahopac General Store and the Hotel Mahopac as a bell hop. He became a master carpenter in his teens, often building from his imagination, rather than sheets of instructions. After graduation from high school he entered military service as a career spanning 22 years and rose from the rank of Private to Lieutenant Colonel. His travels were wide and adventurous, and there were many times in his life he set out on journeys and missions, often exploring unknown destinations. Long after his retirement from the Armed Services, he continued to dedicate his life in service to others.

Bayreuth, Germany 1952

Ralph is a US Army veteran of post-World War II Germany, the Cold War and the Vietnam War. He enlisted in the army in the Fall of 1948. He attended OCS (1951), the Armor School (1951), the Armor Advanced Course (1959), the US Army Psychological, Civil Operations School, the Language School (Vietnamese); US Army Special Warfare School (1966), and the Military Assistance Training Advisor School (1966).

Ralph and Lois at quarters, 1955

From 1952-1954 he served in Germany as Aide de Camp to Brigadier General Hamilton H. Howze, Assistant Commanding General of the 2nd Armored “Hell on Wheels” Division, European Command during NATO transition of the Deutschen Bundeswehr Panzers Division; and as G3-Operations officer under General Creighton Abrams, Division Commander of the 3rd Armored “Spearhead” Division (1959–62). In April 1965 he went in with the 508th Infantry 6th Marines Amphibious Expeditionary Unit aboard the US Navy vessel USS Boxer to intervene in Dominican Republic civil uprising between the loyalists and Communist rebels.

In 1955 between several tours of duty in Germany, Ralph returned to New York briefly to teach classes at West Point and married Lois Ray from Arlington, Virginia and she became his devoted partner. They did everything together until she passed away in 1999. They raised and moved the family to various duty stations, transitioning to make every new place a happy home. From 1974 to 1980 they worked together running a home improvement business in Columbia, MD.

From 1966-68 Ralph served two tours of duty with USAID, and with CORDS under the command of John Vann who pioneered the program in concert with the health and disease prevention services of the Australian Medical Corps, to aid the South Vietnamese in their struggle for autonomy by 'winning the hearts and minds.' The story of the CORDS program was later profiled in the Pulitzer Prize winning book titled A Bright and Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan. Ralph also assembled a team of locals to write, print and distribute an information services newspaper and set-up television coverage across numerous provinces in Vũng Tàu and Bien Hoa, Republic of South Vietnam.

Ralph earned several military decorations, including the Legion of Merit; the AirMedal; the Army Commendation Medal (1OLC); The Army Good Conduct Medal; The Army Occupation Medal with Germany Bar; The National Defense Service Medal (1CS); The Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal; the Vietnam Campaign Medal with Five Campaigns; The Armed Forces Reserve Medal; The Republic of Vietnam Honor Medal (1C); The Republic of Vietnam Civil Actions Medal (1C); The Vietnam Service Medal and the Aircraft Crewman Badge. During WWII as a Boy Scout he also earned many badges as well as participating in the Coast Watchers training.

Ralph's organizational skills and attention to detail were legendary, and he put this to practical use as a railway historian, writer and publisher. Ralph’s wife Lois edited the manuscripts and created drawings and railroad car illustrations, and his daughter Carol created the end pages for four exceptional titles Ralph wrote and published between 1988 and 1995. The titles he published are: A Century of Pullman Cars, Volume I: Alphabetical List (1988); Century of Pullman Cars, Volume II (1990); A Century of Pullman Cars: The Palace Cars (1990); The Business Cars of the Union Pacific Railroad (1992); and The Baltimore & Ohio Dining Cars (1995). He also served as Treasurer and Vice President and as a traveling and series lecturer with the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Historical Society. His lifelong passion for model railroading, road trips, reading and research, and ocean cruising were among his many interests and pastimes.

He was an independent thinker, and a positive problem solver of high integrity and with immense mental energy as well as a strong individualist; attracted to all the good things in life and fierce in his quests to achieve them. He was an enthusiastic speaker with authority and sincerity, always embraced new ways of doing things, especially those subjects that inspired and set examples for others.

Ralph will be remembered as a dedicated and loving father, warm hearted and friendly, always a gentleman, always the first to volunteer, proud of his military service and his dairy farm boy heritage; for his playful ear-wiggling, and his signature kiss followed by a wink of his eye whenever parting with good friends.

He was calm in crisis, methodical and meticulous, a future thinker, a patient teacher and the discipline and patriotism he learned in the Army never left him, as his many friends and family will attest.

In loving memory

Services will be held Saturday May 27 from 12 to 1pm at Haight Funeral Home and Chapel. Viewing is between 10-12am. Later in the year, date to be determined, he will be interned with full military honors at The Arlington National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to The Fisher House Foundation via their website

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